All through this past winter kids at school spent time outdoors when they could (usually), playing basketball, taking walks, climbing on the rocks, or using the swings and the slide. After the pond froze and was safe to walk on, many of them were on the pond, or careening down the slope on their sleds, and over jumps that they constructed, to end up on the pond surface. They were exuberantly enjoying the brisk cold and radiant beauty of winter. Yet, on the first day of Spring almost everyone was drawn outside and what they did was remarkable.
The snow cover had receded and for the most part disappeared, revealing an array of tree branches all over the campus, the result of a series of turbulent storms that had cast them down. That unexpected ground cover excited the entrepreneurial interest of a few of the school’s more experienced construction crews. They hurried to seize the opportunity. They staked out building sites, and began collecting wood in all sizes and shapes, all the while planning the design of the structures that they would build with the available supply. Within hours, the first group of crews had framed a varied collection of teepees, carefully crafted to resist the winds that often sweep across the campus.
The sight of those initial abodes excited the imaginations of some of the observers, who decided the time was ripe for them to join the action. Day two saw another set of builders scouring the land for materials, diving into remote corners to extract excellent branches and sticks that still remained to be harvested. By the end of the day, the number of structures had grown significantly.
Meanwhile, they all began to do the finish work. Partial coverings, decorations, flooring, landscaping, were devised, in an eye-catching variety of shapes and colors. In this way, in a twinkling of an eye, a veritable teepee village came into being at Sudbury Valley.
As we watched all this unfolding before us, we realized yet again that no curriculum adults devise can provide the fantastic spirit of adventure, exploration and invention that the children bring to their lives every day.